April 11, 2003

First Unitarian Church has agreed to buy the Concord Pike Library building in Talleyville, which has been vacated since its collection was move to the new Brandywine branch library, Delaforum has learned.

David Burdash, director of the Wilmington Institute Free Library, which owns the two-story suburban building, confirmed that there is a sales agreement under which the church will buy it for $850,000. The actual property settlement, he said, will take place in early June.

Since it became known several years ago that the crowded and obsolete county library housed there would be replaced by the larger and modern new one, there has been concern about the fate of the building. Civic activists were strong in opposing its being sold for commercial use.

Burdash said "discussions with the church have been going on for awhile." That, he said, was in keeping with a stated desire to have the building take on a use that would be "compatible with the community." It is believed the Unitarian Universalist church, which has a growing congregation, will use it for educational activities. Church officials could not be reached for comment as this article was being prepared.

The church is located in Sharpley, directly behind the library building.

A problem for the church has been to come up with the money to meet a price which would meet the Wilmington Institute's fiduciary obligation to obtain market value or something close to it. Burdash described the amount agreed upon as a "compromise." He said his organization did not have any serious discussion with any other prospective buyer.

Although the new Brandywine branch apparently replaces the downtown Wilmington library as the largest in the state, Burdash said he does not regard it as competition. "The demand for library services is increasing and that area (Brandywine Hundred) certainly needs a larger and more up-to-date facility," he said. He described it as "a beautiful and large building which will certainly serve the need."

He said the Wilmington library had considered and rejected the idea of providing refreshments for reading patrons, one of the prominent features of the new library. "It's something we'll keep looking at and we certainly will do whatever it takes" to remain competitive, he said.

2003. All rights reserved.

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